Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Clutter

Periodically, I find myself surrounded by clutter: papers on the floor, clothes on furniture, and unarticulated ideas in my head. By reinterpreting a cleaning system advocated by my father, I found a way to “tidy up” my surroundings growing up. The path to cleanliness (tidiness) in six easy steps.

  1. Make the bed. (Throw junk from my bed onto the floor.)
  2. Sort out clothes. (Leave washed clothes in the living room for someone else to fold.)
  3. Clean up the floor. (Move junk from the floor onto my desk.)
  4. Clean up the desk. (Transfer junk from my desk to my sister’s room.)
  5. Sort out miscellaneous clutter. (Toss remaining junk onto the closet floor.)
  6. Clean the closet. (Close the closet door.)

Unfortunately, my interpretation of the system has not worked as well since leaving home, and it doesn’t handle my cluttered thoughts. However, in the spirit of my past efforts to “tidy up” my surroundings, I will push my unarticulated thoughts into this space.

Genius. The MacArthur “Genius” Awards were announced this week, and the list included the son of a family friend from Athens. What makes a genius? I don’t know, but some people on the list have some impressive accomplishments. However, the word genius is more often associated with some internal state that allowed this distinguished group to realize these accomplishments. Does such an internal state exist? Perhaps, but even if it doesn’t, it’s a convenient excuse to justify laziness. “I’ll never be as good as Atul because he’s a genius! Where’s the remote control?”

Asymmetry. Two of my friends have an interesting relationship. Friend 1 dislikes Friend 2, and Friend 2 has no clue. Correction… had no clue. Friend 2 raised his suspicions that Friend 1 might have some beef with him. Past experience dictates that when both parties are aware of the asymmetric relationship, one of two things happens: they resolve their differences or end up mutually disliking each other. Either way, the result is symmetry, but why can’t we all just be friends?

Devil. George W. Bush challenged Hugo Chavez to a fiddling contest at the UN, and Chavez’s performance was met with applause. Chavez is not the first person to accuse another human being of being the devil. Dr. H. H. Holmes, a Chicago doctor living near the end of the 19th century, became famous when someone discovered he was a serial killer. His victims included the children of his business partner and several women, many of whom he managed to seduce. The Devil in the White City includes the following quote from Holmes’s confession: “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than a poet can help the inspiration to sing.”

Sleep well, my friends. I know I will now that my head’s clear.

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